City Council delays issue on conscientious objector info

Daily Planet staff and wire reports
Wednesday December 12, 2001

Conscientious objectors will have to wait a while to pass on their information via city wires after the City Council delayed its decision Tuesday on whether or not Berkeley will lend a hand to the group’s cause. 

The original proposal called for workers who answer the city’s general information phones to be supplied with material about the Central Committee for Conscientious Objectors. 

The idea, proposed by the city’s Peace and Justice Commission, was to have information available for people who might call asking about how to avoid military combat. 

The commission adopted a resolution earlier this month noting Berkeley’s “unique and honored tradition of promoting alternative social values and viewpoints including nonviolence and pacifism.” 

“During this time of military action, especially, we felt it was important that young people, who are of an age to consider enrolling in the military, have the full range of information available to them,” said Commissioner Steve Freedkin. 

Freedkin said he doesn’t know of any instances where someone has called the city to ask about avoiding the military, but it would be good for city staff to be prepared. 

The item was to have been decided on the “consent calendar,” where issues are agreed upon without discussion. But councilmembers who are part of the moderate faction questioned the item.  

“There’s no draft, so there’s no point in being a conscientious objector,” said Councilmember Polly Armstrong. 

Councilmember Betty Olds, also a moderate, offered a compromise: Refer people to armed forces recruiting numbers if they want to sign up, she said. 

Instead, the council decided to pull the item from the consent calendar and have a more thorough discussion on it at a later meeting.